Ventral Hernia: Causes, Symptoms, Signs, Complications, Diagnosis
What is Ventral Hernia?
Ventral hernia is a situation in which a weak spot in the stomach lets the tissue or an organ of the abdomen project through a cavity muscle region. When you see or feel ventral hernias it is suggested to visit a physician as soon as possible. These ventral hernias can be seen or identified by a lump on the stomach.
Most commonly we see ventral hernias are near the navel area, an inguinal hernia or a previous stomach incision procedure. In the United States, there are approximately 90,000+ ventral hernia repairs are performed every year. Ventral hernias can occur or develop at any time. They can be hereditary that is by birth or during or after pregnancy or it can also occur as the stomach muscles weaken with age or sometimes due to chronic stress.
Ventral hernia may or may not occur after an abdominal operation. It can also occur after a long gap from the time of operation or it may even not happen at all. The chances of ventral hernia increase if the patient tries to involve himself/herself in physical activity or lifting heavy items too soon after the ventral hernia surgery.
Ventral hernia cannot heal automatically. It has to be treated well with physician's guidance. In some of the cases in which the ventral hernia is mild and is not dangerous it will be treated without any sort of surgery by pushing the projecting tissue back, so that the hernia cavity can close up naturally. Ventral hernia sometimes should be surgically repaired in order to avoid the risk of intestines being cut off from the body's blood supply. This phenomenon is known as strangulation which is considered as a medical emergency.
A few questions will pop up in your mind related to ventral hernia like "Do I need to see a doctor?" or "Do I need surgery?" Here are a few answers to all the questions that might pop up in your mind. Firstly, if you suspect that you are under the symptoms of ventral hernia, you should immediately seek medical help so that they can diagnose the exact problem and get a quick solution for it. Secondly, surgery can be option only if you have a major ventral hernia situation. A mild ventral hernia can be dealt by pushing the tissue back to get the hernia cavity close up. Your physician will check you thoroughly to know whether the hernia can be treated with or without surgery.
What are the Surgical Options for Ventral Hernia?
In today's world science has improved and has gone through a vast growth. Therefore, there are varieties of surgical options for each and every health problems. To treat ventral hernia there are different surgical options not only according to your needs and wishes but also the required medication for your health condition diagnosed by your physician or the procedures suggested by the doctor. Generally ventral hernia surgeries are divided in two categories:
Keyhole or Laparoscopic Surgery for Ventral Hernia
In this method of keyhole or laparoscopic surgery for ventral hernia instead of making an incision into your stomach, the surgeons will insert, usually three or four, small keyholes (trocars) into your belly and then with a video camera and long instruments they will repair the ventral hernia from inside the stomach. This is a minimum one hour long procedure which can also take longer time.
Open Ventral Hernia Surgery
Open ventral hernia surgery is the most common method from old times till now. The surgeon for ventral hernia will make a cut above the hernia in your belly which will be followed by repairing the ventral hernia from outside-in. The final step is to close the incision with sutures or skin glue after the ventral hernia operation.
What's the Difference Between Keyhole Surgery and Open Surgery for Ventral Hernia?
Both Keyhole surgery and open surgery are proven well for the ventral hernia treatment. There are differences in both the methods.
Keyhole surgery for ventral hernia is very challenging and it also carries a lot of risk with it. Keyhole surgery is performed under general anesthesia in a special laparoscopic center by an experienced specialist doctor. The advantages that one can get with this treatment are that the patient can return to work or normal activity faster after the surgery. It is an excellent option that should be selected by patients with mild ventral hernia or may be with patients who have already undergone a ventral hernia surgery.
Open surgery for ventral hernia is more applicable with the patients who have a situation with complex ventral hernia. It does not carry any risk unlike keyhole surgery. The incisions made can be really risky if not taken care of properly. It is painful, but the modern technology or pain reliefs can help with this problem. One should consult his or her doctor regarding both the methods.
Causes of Ventral Hernia
There can be a lot of causes due to which your body will go through ventral hernia. It can be by birth due to hereditary reasons or some may develop over the time. A congenital hernia that is hernias by birth are generally due to incomplete or lesser closure of part of the stomach wall. The hernias near navel are also congenital. Those that develop over time are in the weakened areas of the stomach wall. There are a number of causes due to which ventral hernias occur. Some of them are:
Weakened Stomach Wall Can Cause Ventral Hernia
Weakened stomach wall is a very common factor that can lead to ventral hernia. The projected tissue or organ tares these delicate muscles and comes out from its place and to get it replaced one has to go through ventral hernia surgery.
Unhealed Surgical Incision Can Cause Ventral Hernia
The ventral hernia surgery incision does not heal immediately. To deal with it one has to be really careful. The operated region remains delicate for a certain period of time. So if not healed properly one might get this ventral hernia again.
Infected Surgical Incision Might Cause Ventral Hernia
Infection can be a common cause due to which one may get ventral hernia.
Hematoma Can Cause Ventral Hernia
Hematoma is a condition where the clots are developed and if the situation troubles the surgery area it may lead to this condition of ventral hernia.
Undernourishment Can Cause Ventral Hernia
Undernourishment or malnourishment can be a severe cause of ventral hernia. The complete healing of the surgery also depends on the proper nourishment the patient is getting.
Torn Stitches Can Cause Ventral Hernia
Sometimes due to more physical activities or immediate labor or ongoing stress or strain after surgery the stiches are torn which can get infections or bleeding. This can however cause ventral hernia.
Obesity May Lead to Ventral Hernia
Obesity might cause ventral hernia. Obesity is not good for any of the health problems. It is known that the excess fat in the body does not allow the operated area to heal faster. This may let the muscle tissue surrounding the tissue split.
Old Age Might Cause Ventral Hernia
A very important cause of ventral hernia can be aging factor. Any surgery will take time to heal if the patient is old. And in that slow time healing procedure may undergo strain and stress which can lead to tear and wear of the wound. We all know that the immune system of the aged people slows down with the age in comparison to the younger people.
Ventral Hernia Can be Caused Due to Chronic Coughing
Intense and loud coughing can be a reason due to which ventral hernia occurs. The stiches may bleed or it may loosen due to intense coughing. Medicines are an option to make the wound heal faster despite of the problems. All the medicines that are taken should all be prescribed by the doctor.
Signs & Symptoms of Ventral Hernia
Some people do not notice any signs & symptoms with a ventral hernia whereas inflammation is noticeable to some patients when there is pressure on the stomach on walking or performing any work. Bulge will be seen while coughing or pushing heavy things or lifting. That can also lead to severe pain which is also a symptom of ventral hernia. Common symptoms of a ventral hernia includes:
- Abdominal lump that is painful is a sign of ventral hernia.
- Abdominal lump that is reducible with gentle pressure is another symptom of ventral hernia.
- Bulging area or lump on the abdomen.
- Enlargement of the lump when abdominal pressure is increased.
- Redness of the skin over an abdominal lump is a sign of ventral hernia.
Serious Symptoms of Ventral Hernia That Might Indicate a Life-Threatening Condition
In some cases symptoms of ventral hernia can be really dangerous that can cause death. Immediate medical health should be taken if you or anyone you know is suffering from these ventral hernia symptoms which include:
- An area of increasing swelling with tight, glistening red skin.
- Changes in bowel habits, such as an inability to have bowel movements or pass gas.
- High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Severe nausea and vomiting.
- Severe abdominal pain.
- Infant who does not produce the usual amount of wet diapers or not producing any urine.
Complications of Ventral Hernia
There can be serious complications if you do not treat your ventral hernia at the right time with perfect guidance. Firstly, your ventral hernia may become bigger and get infected easily. Secondly, it may change your posture. Thirdly, the pain you experience from ventral hernia may get worse. Fourthly, your bowel movement may experience difficulties as it may get trapped or get blocked. Finally, your abdomen may start bleeding internally which can lead to life threatening infection.
Tests to Diagnose Ventral Hernia
Some of the tests conducted for ventral hernia are simple and some of the tests are not so simple. In order to analyze a ventral hernia the specialist will suggest you to shift so that the specialist can easily observe the presence of the ventral hernia. In the first step, the specialist will adopt a physical test by making the patient cough so that the doctor can observe the bulge. In the second step, the doctor will suggest the patient to lie flat with their legs bent in order to observe the bulge correctly. In the third step, the doctor will suggest for an abdominal ultrasound or a CT scan. The patient is suggested the below for ventral hernia:
- Abdominal ultrasound is done for diagnosing ventral hernia.
- CT scan is also performed for ventral hernia.
Additional Tests for Ventral Hernia May Include:
- Urinalysis for ventral hernia.
- Blood tests for ventral hernia.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) for ventral hernia patients over 45 or if high risk of heart problems.